If President Jacob Zuma’s son and their friends, the Guptas, can to appoint ministers, then we can kiss democracy goodbye, counsel for the UDM and Cope has argued in the High Court in Pretoria.
The two political parties, along with the DA and EFF, are opposing an application by the president to set aside the remedial action directed by former public protector Thuli Mandosela in her state capture report.
Madonsela directed the president to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into serious allegations of state capture by the Gupta family, but directed Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to select the presiding judge because of the president’s conflict of interest.
Adv Dali Mpofu, for the UDM and Cope, argued the president was playing blatant gymnastics to avoid the simple matter of an investigation and to let the public know if there was criminality in the highest office in the country.
“If he (the president) is acting in the public interest he would not object to the judge president’s involvement. No sane person would do that.
“The whole gymnastics are to protect his involvement or non-involvement. We don’t know,” he said.
He argued that a reasonable president would have realised that state capture was a matter of national importance and extreme urgency, “rather than wasting another decade”.
Referring to the Nkandla and spy tapes sagas in which the courts ruled against President Zuma, Mpofu said the court was dealing with a legendary abuse of the court process.
He said if the president succeeded, “we will have this merry-go-round forever” and another 10 years would have elapsed before there was a commission of inquiry into state capture.
Mpofu argued the president should be made to pay the legal costs personally if his application failed.
He said the case touched all South Africans, as it involved taxpayers’ money, and said if the Guptas had stolen taxpayers’ money, taxpayers should not be made to pay for the legal costs.
“If he was paying out of his own pocket, we would not have been in court. It’s because we’re paying for it that we’re here,” he said.
Adv Steven Budlender, for the DA, argued there was nothing unusual about the remedial action President Zuma was now challenging as the public protector routinely identified the need for further investigation and instructed the appropriate body to investigate.
“The only thing that makes it unusual is that the president is involved and that the allegations are extraordinarily serious,” he said.
He argued that a commission of inquiry was the only effective way to investigate the allegations in a public and credible way and was the public protector’s best attempt to cure the root cause of the complaints.
The application continues.